Experts Collaborate on Mission to Document Protected Species


Scientists collect valuable data on marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles during the first part of a survey off the southeast coast of the United States.

Scientists from NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center recently completed the first leg of a mission to survey marine mammals and other protected species in waters off the southeast coast of the United States. They are locating, identifying, and counting marine mammals from both the NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter and a NOAA Twin Otter aircraft.

The data they collect will be used to assess the abundance, distribution, ecology, and behavior of marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds throughout the U.S. Atlantic. These data are also critical for updating the Atlantic stock assessment reports required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

Usually, we conduct these marine mammal surveys annually but were not able to collect data in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The beginning of this trip has also had some challenges—two tropical storms have made for rough seas and grounded flights.

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Image via NOAA Fisheries